If you have to struggle with your inner adversary, you must know two things:

First, don’t respect your adversary. Recognize that you are above your enemy, as the Torah in this week’s parsha states: “When you go out to wage war on your enemy.: It doesn’t say against your enemy but on your enemy. Know that you are superior to the forces of evil; know that you possess a Divine soul.

Second, and paradoxically, respect your adversary. Recognize that it too is endowed has a spark of Divinity embedded in it. Recognize that its purpose is for you to defeat it by transforming it.

This too, the Torah alludes to when it states, “And you will capture a captive.” You will eventually appropriate the negative forces in the world and harness them for the good.

In the Messianic Age, the forces of darkness will be transformed into light.






The Essence of Marriage

Marriage in Judaism is not just a license to regulate relationships. Nor is it just companionship and an expression of love. According to the Zohar, it is the reunion of two half souls that were separated at birth.

How do we know if our marriage is actually the reunion of two half souls?

If our marriage includes G‑d and is faithful to His commandments, then we know that it is a match made in heaven.

This premise is based on the famous Talmudic statement that the words for man and woman in Hebrew contain the letters aleph and shin which spells aish, fire, or powerful energy. The word for man, ish, also has the letter Yud, and the word for woman, ishah, has the letter hei, and together they form of one of G‑d’s names.

The Talmud concludes: “If they are meritorious then the Divine [represented by the two letters yud and hei] will dwell amongst them; if not then they will be consumed by their fire (i.e., by their powerful energy that will clash and bring destruction to the marriage).


Purpose of Marriage

The ultimate meaning and purpose of marriage is to enable us to fulfill mission on this earth to make the world a G‑dly place. Each one of us possesses only half of our potential. When we get married in accordance with the “laws of Moses and Israel” (the words recited at the marriage ceremony), we then are fully empowered to fulfill our mission because we then have access to all of our soul’s potential. The first place in which we succeed to introduce the Divine is in our own lives and homes. From there the enhanced Divine power we possess can spread to our families, friends, environment and indeed to the entire world.

This explains why a wedding is such a joyous occasion and why true joy and happiness, the Talmud teaches, can only be realized when we are married.

The reason for this assertion is that marriage is when we become complete and are given the potential to succeed in justifying our very reason for existing.


Destroyed Marriages

This may also explain the tragic phenomenon of why so many marriages fail miserably even though they began with true love and passion. Moreover, at times we see that the most vitriolic hatred can be found between spouses and ex-spouses. Why would, and how could, the most powerful love degenerate into such venomous animosity?

One possible explanation for this sad phenomenon, in some cases, is that when one is single, although he or she does not have full access to all of their potential, they can still compensate and accomplish singularly what most others need to do as a couple. For example, there are people who have only one hand but they can do virtually everything others can do only with two hands. Even if they do not compensate, G‑d doesn’t expect of them more than they can handle and whatever they achieve with half of their potential is admirable.

But when one enters into a marriage in which there is no unified purpose to fulfill their mission on earth, then each spouse ends up frustrating the other’s fulfillment of his or her purpose and destroys their very raison d'etre. Nothing can be more hurtful and devastating to us than to feel consciously or subconsciously that we are failing and our lives lack meaning and purpose.


Giving a Ring and Circling the Groom

This is what the Torah meant when G‑d created Eve from Adam, and declared that “she will be a eizer-helpmate.” Onkeles, the Aramaic translator of the Torah, renders the word eizer-helpmate as “samach,” which the Chassidic Master, the Chozeh (Seer) of Lublin stated is related to the word simcha-joy. When Adam is made complete with his reunion with Eve, it was the ultimate source of simcha of joy. Indeed, in every wedding, we compare the marriage to the marriage of Adam to Eve.

This is also one of the many reasons it is customary to give a ring in the marriage ceremony:

The ring is round and is made to resemble the letter samach-helpmate, which is the only totally round letter in the Hebrew Alphabet.

But being round implies that the newlywed couple are so connected to each other that there is no place where one’s identity ends and the other’s begins. Their lives are totally intertwined and forms an endless circle.

This may also explain why the Ashkenazic custom is for the bride (and the parents of the bride and groom) to circle the groom at the marriage ceremony seven times. It is a symbol of their total union and endless joy-Samach.


The 15th of Av: The Greatest of Holidays

This also explains why the 15th of the month of Av was the day marriages were made in Biblical times. The letter samach, says the Apter Rav, one of the Chassidic masters, is the 15th letter of the aleph bet (the two letters of the month of Av). On that day, the prospective brides would go out into the field and joyously dance in circles shaped like the letter samach.

It should be noted that the number 15 is also the numerical value of G‑d’s name, contained in the words ish-man and isha-woman.

Moreover, the 15th of the month is when there is a full moon, when the “marriage” between the sun and the moon is complete.

Although the 15th of every month is meaningful (Passover, Sukkos and Shushan Purim all occur on the 15th of their respective months), the 15th of Av is especially auspicious in that it occurs just six days after Tisha B’av, the day that marks the most challenging events that undermined the marriage between G‑d and the Jewish people, including destruction of G‑d’s home, the Bais Hamikdash.

When a couple who experience serious strain in their marriage reunite in love, it is an even greater joy than the joy of a marriage that was never challenged. Thus, the Talmud declares that there was never a greater Holiday for the Jewish people than the 15th of Av and Yom Kippur. Both Holidays mark a renewal after separation. The Yom Kippur renewal following the separation occurred when Moses returned with the second Tablets demonstrating G‑d’s total forgiveness of the Jewish people for their role in the Golden Calf.  The 15th of Av marked the reversal of the tragedy of Tisha B’av, as mentioned earlier.

The Chassidic work Tefilah L’Moshe adds that Yom Kippur is the day in which we actually invoke three kinds of forgiveness: selichamechilah and kaparah, the initials of which form the word samach.  And indeed, the day we get married and are forgiven for all of our sins is the Yom Kippur of our entire life; the day the Mishnah refers to as G‑d’s wedding day with the Jewish people.

Our Sages tell us that the completion and consummation of our marriage with G‑d will occur in the Messianic Age.  Then we will be able to experience marriage at its highest and most complete level and experience unmitigated joy.